By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Stakeholders of the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Programme (Red-Dead project) are scheduled to convene in Israel later this month to review progress, a government official said Saturday.

Representatives of the three beneficiary governments (Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel,) as well as World Bank experts, are expected to meet with representatives of companies carrying out the project’s economic feasibility study, and environmental and social impact assessment, Jordan Valley Authority Secretary General Saad Abu Hamour told The Jordan Times.

“The meeting is expected to take place in Eilat later this month. The project’s steering committee will review and discuss progress of the studies,” the official said.

The feasibility study and the environmental and social impact assessment were launched in May 2008. Earlier this year, a study was launched to evaluate and compare strategic alternatives to preserve the shrinking Dead Sea and augment the water supply to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The alternative scenarios include the rehabilitation of the lower part of the Jordan River and the transfer of water from the Mediterranean Sea or water sources in Turkey and Iraq to the Dead Sea. Other options include alternative desalination projects, improved management of the water sector in the three countries, and a hybrid of the aforementioned alternatives.

The Red Sea Modelling Study explores the impact of the Red-Dead project on the physical, chemical and biological make-up of the Red Sea, while the Dead Sea Modelling Study examines the impact of the scheme on the Dead Sea and water quality, according to the World Bank.

Results of the World Bank-led studies, expected to be released next year, will determine whether and how the project will proceed, according to officials.
The Red-Dead project is part of international efforts to save the Dead Sea, which has been shrinking at the rate of one metre per year, largely due to the diversion of water from the Jordan River for agricultural and industrial use.

Over the past two decades alone, it has plunged more than 30 metres, with experts warning that it could dry up within the next 50 years.